What is an Ice Cream Ball?

Cassie L. Damewood

An ice cream ball is an ice cream maker that produces a frozen dessert mixture in a spherical container. Based on the concept of a manual, tabletop ice cream maker that makes ice cream through mixing the chilled contents with a crank, the ice cream ball mixes the ingredients through motions such as rolling, shaking and passing it between people’s hands. The apparatus requires no electricity.

A scoop of ice cream.
A scoop of ice cream.

Using an ice cream ball to make ice cream requires following simple directions that are normally included with the product packaging. The process requires rock salt and ice in addition to the ice cream ingredients. An ice cream mix comes with the ball and requires the addition of milk or cream to complete the recipe. Any traditional ice cream recipe that includes sugar, vanilla and milk or cream can be used in lieu of the pre-packaged mix.

Ice cubes are used in an ice cream ball to make ice cream.
Ice cubes are used in an ice cream ball to make ice cream.

Once the ice cream ingredients and processing materials are gathered, the ice and rock salt are placed into one side of the ball, and the lid is hand tightened. The ice cream ingredients are thoroughly combined in a separate vessel, preferably a lipped pitcher to facilitate pouring. These ingredients are poured into the other side of the ice cream ball, leaving about one inch (2.54 centimeters) of free space to allow the mixture to expand as it freezes. The lid on this side of the ball is also hand tightened.

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At this point, the ice cream freezing process begins. As the ball is moved among people, by rolling, shaking or passing, the rock salt slowly melts the ice cubes. This mixture chills the ice cream ingredients, and they become thicker as the process continues.

After ten to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the ball, a plastic wrench that comes with the ice cream maker is used to remove the lid on the ice cream side. The wrench is necessary because the temperature and pressure of the expanding ingredients significantly tighten the lid. The frozen ingredients generally are stirred into the unfrozen ones at this point for uniformity. A plastic or wooden spoon is recommended to avoid damaging the metal cylinder, and the lid is again tightly secured.

The water is then removed from the ice and rock salt side of the ball and more rock salt is added. After the lid is replaced, the mixing action resumes. The process continues for five to 15 minutes, again dependent upon the size of the ball. When the ice cream is at the desired consistency, it is scooped out and served.

Rock salt, which is used in making ice cream balls.
Rock salt, which is used in making ice cream balls.

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